Zelenskyy rejects Russia's claim of capture of town in eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rejected Russia's claim that its troops have captured the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, saying that fighting in the area continues.

Russia's Defence Ministry announced on Friday that its forces took control of the salt-mining town in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk on Thursday evening. Soledar is located near the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut.

Independent Russian media outlet Meduza says the town was the first city captured by Russia since July last year.

Zelenskyy said in a video released on Friday that the battle for Bakhmut and Soledar, as well as other towns and villages in east Ukraine, was ongoing. He also said that Ukrainian forces are defending the areas.

Observers say Moscow's claim of taking Soledar comes amid mounting criticism within Russia as the Ukrainian counteroffensive has intensified.

Meanwhile, the British government is considering providing Ukraine with battle tanks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reportedly asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to work with partners in the coming weeks to discuss how to expedite and increase support for Ukraine, including the delivery of tanks.

The British prime minister's office told NHK that battle tanks could provide a game-changing capability to the Ukrainians.

Zelenskyy has been asking for tanks with high offensive capabilities.

Western nations have been cautious about providing such weapons out of concerns that doing so could further escalate fighting. Earlier this month, the United States, France and Germany announced plans to provide Ukraine with armored fighting vehicles.